The festive season is often the busiest time of year for us all, with long nights, packed out social calendars, and cocktails all commonplace. We asked our skin health experts the 5 things that can impact your microbiome as the year comes to an end, plus the best ways to alleviate your symptoms and get your gut back on track.
During the holidays, many people indulge in rich and high-calorie foods which are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and processed ingredients. This shift in dietary habits can alter the composition of your gut microbiome.
Because an excess of sugar and processed foods can promote the growth of less desirable bacteria while reducing the diversity of beneficial ones. 1
We’d recommend switching out cocktails that are generally high in sugar to a glass of red wine instead – on average a standard cocktail can contain up to 10g of sugar vs red wine which on average can be around 1g.
The festive season often involves more alcohol consumption, which can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome and lead to inflammation in the gut. 2 It can also affect the liver, which plays a role in processing toxins and maintaining overall gut health.
Our skin health experts recommend feeding your good bacteria with fermented drinks such as kombucha helping to maintain a healthy population of microorganisms in your gut.
The holidays can be a stressful time for many people due to travel, family gatherings, or financial pressures. High stress levels can affect the composition of the microbiome and increase bad bacteria BUT increasing the levels of good bacteria can help reduce stress levels. 3,4
Make sure you include fermented foods alongside festive meals such as fermented cranberries and fermented pickles or take a good probiotic.
It’s also a good idea to take the time to do some yoga or get out and take a long walk to help reduce stress levels. Put in some boundaries – it’s okay to say no to an event or two and take the time to relax instead.
Disrupted Sleep Patterns:
Irregular sleep schedules, late nights, and disrupted sleep can have a negative impact on your microbiome3. A sleep study on healthy adults showed that just 2 days of restricted sleep shifted gut bacteria to a less beneficial profile.5
A well-regulated sleep pattern is essential for maintaining gut health so while there are going to be late nights over the festive season, make sure that in between you are getting in some early nights too!
Hydration and Fibre Intake:
During the festive season, people might not pay as much attention to their water intake and fibre-rich foods.
Both water and fibre are essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Go big on Brussels sprouts – part of the brassica family along with cabbage, kale and broccoli, they’re packed full of fibre which provides just the right type of fuel for your gut bacteria. Half a cup provides just over 2 grams of fibre.
Include broths and soups during the day to stay hydrated. These warm, savoury options provide essential fluids and help us to stay hydrated.
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1 Satokari, R. (2020). High intake of sugar and the balance between pro-and anti-inflammatory gut bacteria Nutrients, 12(5), 12–15. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051348
2 Bishehsari F, et al. Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation. Alcohol Res. 2017;38(2):163-171. PMID: 28988571; PMCID: PMC5513683.
4 Madison A, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition. Curr OpinBehav Sci. 2019 Aug;28:105-110. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.01.011. Epub 2019 Mar 25. PMID: 32395568; PMCID: PMC7213601.
5 Benedict, C., et al. (2016). Gut microbiota and glucometabolic alterations in response to recurrent partial sleep deprivation in normal-weight young individuals. Molecular Metabolism, 5(12), 1175–1186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.003